Manor House, London

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Manor House
Junction of Green Lanes and Seven Sisters Road.jpg
Manor House is located in Greater London
Manor House
Manor House
Manor House shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ320876
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district N4
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°34′19″N 0°05′48″W / 51.57182°N 0.09671°W / 51.57182; -0.09671Coordinates: 51°34′19″N 0°05′48″W / 51.57182°N 0.09671°W / 51.57182; -0.09671

Manor House is a district of north London that mainly falls within the London Borough of Hackney, although it is located on the border with the London Borough of Haringey. It is bordered by Harringay to the north, Stamford Hill to the east, Finsbury Park to the west and Stoke Newington to the south. It forms part of the Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency.

With the regeneration of the Woodberry Down Estate during the early part of the 21st Century, much of the area, rather than just the housing estate, is now being referred to once again by its nineteenth-century name of 'Woodberry Down'.


Built up during the middle part of the nineteenth century as part of an area called Brownswood Park, Manor House is now a small district without a formal town centre, but distant enough from other town centres that it has come to be recognised as an area in its own right. Taking its name from Manor House tube station on the Piccadilly line, it is centred on the crossroads of Seven Sisters Road and Woodberry Grove. The western border is defined by Finsbury Park in the neighbourhood of Harringay. Its other borders are defined by the New River, which loops around it on three sides.[1] The area consists mainly of the Woodberry Down Estate, but there are also two small shopping areas, a school and a pub.

Manor House, looking East along Seven Sisters Road, c 1905


The Manor House pub[edit]

The Original Manor House pub, looking north towards Harringay, c.1860

The pub was the source of both the name of the tube station and the area. The first pub on the site was built by Stoke Newington builder Thomas Widdows[2] between 1830 and 1834[3] next to the turnpike on Green Lanes. Prior to this date a cottage had existed on the site,[4] but in 1829 an Act of Parliament was passed to permit the building of the Seven Sister's Road. Thomas Widdows was both the owner of the house and its occupant.[5] With the building soon to be sited on the junction of the existing Green Lanes turnpike road and the new Seven Sister's Road, Widdows no doubt saw a roadside tavern as an excellent investment.

The new building was within sight of the Hornsey Wood Tavern, which had been formed out of the old Copt Hall, the manor house of the Manor of Brownswood.[2][6] It is possible that its name was taken from this connection[7] The land itself however was on the demesne of Stoke Newington Manor.[8] At around the time that the pub was first built, on the southern boundary of the demesne, on Church Street, a school called Manor School was operating[9] The school was next door to the trading premises of Thomas Widdows, builder of the pub. So it is equally possible that the 'Manor House' name was just a fashionable name, more related to the connection with Stoke Newington Manor.

Robert Baily, the first of many Manor House Tavern landlords described his establishment as a 'public house and tea-gardens'[10] He placed the following advertisement in the Morning Advertiser on September 13, 1834.

Baily died just three years later and the tavern was taken over by George Stacey who had previously been at the Adelaide Tavern in Hackney Road. Stacey placed a tablet on the pub with the following inscription. However, nothing is known of the incident:

The tavern changed hands again several times after Stacey.[11] In 1851 it was purchased by James Toomer.[12] According to the Morning Post, Toomer was 'well respected in literary and theatrical circles'.[13] The new owner added function rooms including a banqueting hall and ballroom which became known as the Manor House Assembly Rooms. Soon after purchase he obtained licences for both music and dancing and the pub became a regular venue for events of both sorts.[14] In the summer of 1870 Toomer advertised a new ballroom[15] and later that summer sold the pub. The advertisement of sale gave the following description:

The building was bought by John Charles Kay who sold it two years later to Samuel Perrin [17] A further change of ownership in 1878 saw the pub in the hands of Stephen Medcalf. In 1890 it was taken on by James Swinyard who remodelled and modernised it shortly after the sale. Swinyard managed the pub till his death in 1910. Subsequently his widow Amelia took over the licence until the late 1920s. In 1930 the imminent arrival of the Piccadilly Line led to the widening of the road, the demolition of the old tavern [18] and the erection of current building. Behind the new building, offices were built for London Transport[19] To the chagrin of her sons, Amelia Swinyard sold the pub to a buyer who then received the compensation when the pub's land was taken to accommodate these buildings. Amelia died in 1937, aged 90 in a nursing home in Muswell Hill.

In later years the pub was the first employer of Richard Desmond, now the owner of the Daily Express and Daily Star. The building also housed a nightclub[20] that was popular among Goths in the mid-1980s. Two decades earlier it had functioned as a popular music venue for rhythm and blues enthusiasts, called the Bluesville R.& B. Club, hosting artists such as Cream, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Long John Baldry and his Hoochie Coochie Men, Rod Stewart (then nicknamed 'Rod the Mod'), John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Fairport Convention, Fleetwood Mac, Jeff Beck, the Spencer Davis Group, Graham Bond and Zoot Money. The ground floor of the building is now occupied by Evergreen supermarket and Simply Organique cafe.

Early development[edit]

Building around Manor House started on Green Lanes with the appearance in 1821 of a large house at the junction with Woodberry Down. Further north on Green Lanes, just to the south of the New River, Northumberland House, a three-storeyed building with a pillared entrance, balustrade, and urns on its roof, was completed in 1822.[21][22] It was sold for conversion to a 'private lunatic asylum' in 1826[23] It was then used as a private mental hospital until it was demolished in 1955.[24] One of its most famous patients was Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot, first wife of the American poet T.S. Eliot,[25] who lived at the hospital from 1938 until her death in 1947.[26]

A thatched cottage, with Gothic windows, was constructed on the boundary with the borough of Tottenham by 1825. Woodberry Down Cottages, four detached houses on the south side of Woodberry Down, had been built by 1829. With the development of Finsbury Park almost a certainty, the land to the south and east of the present-day park was acquired by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners as ideal for building. The park was laid out between 1857 and 1869 and the adjacent land was sold to builders.

During the 1860s, Thomas John Angell, who appears to have been a speculator rather than a builder,[2] built Finsbury Park Villas. This was a terrace of at least twelve houses, which, starting with the Finsbury Park Tavern, ran northward along Green Lanes from its junction with the new Woodberry Grove.

At around the same time, Angell and a London builder Thomas Oldis were responsible for development that began to spread eastward along the north side of Seven Sisters Road. From 1868 to 1870 large detached houses with gardens running down to the New River were built at the east end of Seven Sisters Road. In 1867 3 acres (12,000 m2) were leased on the southern side of the eastern end of the road, for the building of four detached or nine 'substantial' houses; three detached houses were built by 1871. An architect, William Reddall of Finsbury, was one of those who leased the houses.[2] Woodberry Down was laid out in 1868, when it was extended eastward from Lordship Road, and villas were built on the south side in the late 1860s. The area was the northern section of a district called Brownswood Park (named after Brownswood Manor) and was regarded as a particularly select suburb.[2]

However, with the increasing suburbanisation of the area, mainly for the middle and lower middle classes, many of the original families had moved out by 1895 and others were being replaced by poorer people in 1913. Social decline continued, until in 1954 the district was inhabited mainly by students, foreigners, and the working class, with most houses containing four or five families and all in decay.[2]

Twentieth-century redevelopment[edit]

From 1949 through to the 1970s much of the area was redeveloped, the old houses being demolished and replaced with a large council development known locally as Woodberry Down. The LCC compulsorily purchased the area for this purpose in 1934 in order to alleviate chronic housing shortages, but work did not begin till after the Second World War . Construction began in 1949 and the 57 blocks of flats were completed in 1962.

Initially, the estate offered greatly improved living conditions for tenants. However, over time, the estate suffered the problems of comparably idealistic, post-war, social housing projects. By the late 1980s, many of the flats were in a poor state of repair, while many more were empty and boarded up with metal shutters.

1980s squatter community[edit]

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the increasing number of abandoned properties on the estate became occupied by a growing squatter community. The squatters at Woodberry Down Estate were predominantly young punks from all over the UK and Ireland. Several had squatted previously in the Noel Park area in Wood Green. The squatters’ relationship with tenants ranged from amicable to antagonistic, but the two communities generally managed to co-exist without too much hostility. The strong community spirit, which existed among residents in the 1950s was still evident to a lesser extent during this time, and the estate managed to avoid the more extreme crime and social problems often associated with inner-city housing projects. The sharp increase in numbers of squatters has clear links to the huge increases in homelessness in London that resulted from Thatcherite policies, such as the Right to Buy scheme (introduced in the Housing Act 1980).[27]

Historic crime and anti-social behaviour[edit]

The Woodberry Down estate and surrounding area used to be associated with hard drug abuse,[28] prostitution,[29] anti-social behaviour, violence, and sexual offences.[30]

Manor House in the twenty-first century[edit]

Woodberry Down is currently subject to a phased redevelopment that is seeing modern flats built on the site.[31] The plan was initially conceived during a time of economic growth under the New Labour administration in the late 1990s. A structural assessment in 2002 concluded that 31 out of 57 blocks (54%) were beyond economic repair. Following this, Hackney Council struck a deal with Genesis Housing Association, Berkeley Homes for the estate’s demolition and redevelopment. It is among the largest urban regeneration projects in the UK. The first phase of the development produced 117 homes let by Genesis on social rents, and won the top prize for social housing at the Daily Telegraph British Homes Awards 2011.[32] This regeneration has been controversial,[33] with some commentators calling the plans 'state sponsored gentrification'.[34]


For details of education in Manor House, London see the London Boroughs of Hackney and Haringey articles.

Transport and locale[edit]

Nearby places[edit]

Nearest railway stations[edit]

External links[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Google map showing the rough boundaries of Manor House.
  2. ^ a b c d e f T. F. T. Baker & R. B. Pugh (Editors) (1976). A History of the County of Middlesex, Volume 6: Friern Barnet, Finchley, Hornsey with Highgate. Accessed online at British History Online.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ Baker & Pugh (see previous reference) state that the pub was built "by 1832". However, the pub's first landlord advertised is as a new building in 1834, see below
  4. ^ Described as "Cottage and Garden. On the Eastern Side of the Green Lanes, opposite the Road leading to Hornsey Wood House" in the Schedule of the Act to amend an Act of the Seventh Year of His Present Majesty for Consolidating the Trusts of the Several Turnpike Roads in the Neighbourhood of the Metropolis, North of the River Thames, and to make and maintain Two New or Branch Road to communicate with the said Metropolis Road, pp 853-863 of The Statutes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 11, George Eyre and Andrew Strahan, Printers to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, 1829". The cottage was built c. 1810. No building is shown on map OSD 152 / Serial 104 Hampstead 1807 - 08 at Hackney Archives, but one does appear on the 1814 Map of the Parish and Prebendal Manor of the Parish of Stoke Newington, also at Hackney Archives. On Crutchley's 1829 map, the building is labelled as "Lodge", a term often used at the time to refer to a very respectable villa type dwelling.
  5. ^ Map showing the cottage in 1822 can be seen on Harringay Online at
  6. ^ See also Settlement section in History of Harringay Prehistory to 1750
  7. ^ This was certainly the belief of Edwardian authour J. J. Sexby who wrote in his 1905 book, "In the neighbourhood of the (Finsbury) park we still have Brownswood Road and Manor-House Tavern to remind us of the Manor of Brownswood and of its manor-house, which has now disappeared" (The Municipal Gardens, and Open Spaces of London, Lieut. Col.J. J. Sexby, Elliot Stock 1905).
  8. ^ A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 8, Islington and Stoke Newington Parishes, Victoria County History, London, 1985. Pages 143-151.
  9. ^ A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 8, Islington and Stoke Newington Parishes, Victoria County History, London, 1985, Pages 217-223
  10. ^ Morning Advertiser, 26 June 1837.
  11. ^ The Morning Advertiser of 31 July 1849 notes a change of licensee from Catherine Harris to William Burnell. Records also show a Michael Harris insured as a victualler at the tavern in 1840 (Nat Archives ref MS 11936/567/1323901); no doubt this is Catherine's husband.
  12. ^ Morning Advertiser, Aug 9th 1851, and Clerkenwell News, 10 July 1858
  13. ^ The Morning Post - Saturday 31 May 1851
  14. ^ London Evening Standard, 06 October 1854
  15. ^ Hackney and Kingsland Gazette, 04 June 1870
  16. ^ Morning Advertiser - Monday 18 July 1870
  17. ^ The Morning Advertiser of 2 July 1872.
  18. ^ North London Recorder, 28 February 1930
  19. ^ Although the latter building still exists, Transport for London no longer occupies it.
  20. ^ in a room on the first floor 'The Catacomb' nightclub accessed 14 April 2007
  21. ^ Original plans of Northumberland House in Bulletin 51, Pickering & Chatto, May 2016
  22. ^ Whilst no evidence has yet been unearthed that links the house to the Percys, the Dukes of Northumberland, the presence of the Percy lion over the gates suggests that there may have been a link. The Percys also had a historic connection to the area, once owning a house on Newington Green (Old and New London: Volume 2. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878)
  23. ^ Morning Advertiser, page 1, 13 November 1826,London
  24. ^ Roberts, Andrew. Northumberland House, The 1832 Madhouse Act and the Metropolitan Commission in Lunacy from 1832, Middlesex University, accessed 11 November 2009. Roberts cites Murphy, Elaine (2000) The Administration of Insanity in East London 1800-1870 PhD Thesis, University of London.
  25. ^ Seymour-Jones, Carole. Painted Shadow, Doubleday 2001.
  26. ^ Tom and Viv... and Bertie, The Observer, Sunday 14 October 2001
  27. ^ Thatcherite policies condemned for causing 'unjust premature death'
  28. ^ The Guardian "Crack crisis" accessed 2 June 2015
  29. ^ Evening Standard Newspaper accessed 2 June 2015 Prostitutes
  30. ^ Metropolitan Police Crime Maps accessed 2 June 2015
  31. ^ GLA press release 27 Jul 2001 accessed 14 April 2007
  32. ^ Genesis scoops top social housing prize at Daily Telegraph awards, 29 September 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  33. ^ Couvée, K, Woodberry Down in Hackney: How ‘Regeneration’ is Tearing up Another East London Community
  34. ^ Chakrabortty, A and Robinson-Tillett, S The truth about gentrification: regeneration or con trick?